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Israel’s Corona Virus Rules Were Ignored By Ultra Orthodox Jews

Israel is currently battling the spread of Corona virus, the government have imposed increasingly tighter restrictions on the public in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Despite the presence of the police,on Saturday night mourners mingled freely,gathered by thousands,packed tightly with no social distancing in the evening to the streets of Bnei Brak. They made their way to an Ultra Orthodox town near Tel Aviv for the funeral of Rabbi Tziv Shenkar. The people clearly seemed unconcerned about the government restrictions or the reasons behind them.

The Israeli police have pushed into some of these neighborhoods which have led to violence. Young Ultra Orthodox men threw stones at the police in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood after officers scattered a gathering at the synagogue and cited residents for straying more than 100 meters from their homes.

In Israel thirty residents were fined up to $1,400 for violating health restrictions. Authorities have had to carry out raids on synagogues and deployed helicopters.

The members of the Ultra Orthodox or Haredi only complied with the restrictions when they were imposed nationwide more than two weeks ago.

“There is no public that is exempt from the regulations and there is no population that can stand aside and not participate in the law “, Litzman said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth Newspaper.

The Ultra Orthodox have large families packed into small apartments and interact with other religious schools, religious baths and synagogues. Officials said some Haredi lead lives tailor made to facilitate the spread of new pathogens.

Israel has recorded more than 4.800 infections and 19 have died already. In Bnei Barak, the number of cases positive for Corona virus roses from 30 to 244 over three days last week. In Jerusalem the figure increased  from 78 to 314,according to health ministry figures. Already the rate of infection within Orthodox communities is four times that if Israel’s general population.

Esty Shushan, a haredi activist said “Many Haredum are cute off from the digital world, They are not updated on what is going on in the wider world”. In the union fight against Corona virus ,the Ultra Orthodox have become the front line. Police officers issue tickets to those who ignore rules. In the insular Jerusalem neighborhood in Mea shearim, video from Israel’s police showed the Ultra Urthodox showering them with cries of “Murderers” and  “Nazis”. Israel’s response center was pelted with rocks when trying to carry out a Corona virus test.

The Ultra Orthodox communties in Mea shearim , kiryat yearim and Bnai brak, which lies between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have among the highest infection in Israel. The Haredium make up 14% of the country’s total population.

Some leading Ultra Orthodox rabbis have begun to instinct their followers to listen and obey government restrictions. Haredi communities still rely on posters and signs plastered on streets for important messages because they shun modern technology like phones and the Internet. On a corner in Mea shearim, a sign implores the community to heed the Government’s instructions saying “Danger”! Responsibility Demands”, and explains who needs to self quarantine. But the sign was ripped apart with the middle section torn out.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most prominent Haredi leaders ,warned on religious media outlets that anyone who does not obey instructions should be turned over to the police. He even allowed Ultra Orthodox Jews to answer the phone on the sabbath day (a day when use of electricity and technology is strictly forbidden) if they are expecting the results of a corona virus test.

“Inside these religious communities, they are not online and they are not using communication systems, such as smart phones and televisions. They don’t exist in this neighborhood”.

The Government has contemplated quarantining the Ultra Orthodox neighborhoods especially because the epidemic is worse in this particular community.

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